Content Marketing

7 Steps to Create Impactful Content with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)

10.19.2023 9 Minutes

Subject matter experts (SMEs) can provide a wealth of knowledge for your content marketing efforts — energizing your publishing schedule and empowering your writers to create truly authentic and authoritative content.

Marketers everywhere face the unending challenge of creating high-quality content to fuel their content marketing efforts and establish thought leadership.

The struggle, however, lies in engaging with the internal experts and technical staff present in your firm in a way that respects their time and promotes a higher level of collaboration between your departments.

In this article, we’ll explore seven key steps you can follow to better engage with the experts at your firm and create powerful, impactful pieces of content.

Be targeted in creating expert content

Subject matter experts have a wealth of knowledge in very particular niches of your business, and often carry the credentials and experience to back up their opinions in compelling and persuasive ways.

As such, subject matter experts are at their most effective (in the content marketing sense) when they are leveraged to create expert content. This type of content is crucial in furthering your organization’s Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E.E.A.T.), both online and in the broader market.

E.E.A.T. is a term that relates to your firm’s ability to establish itself as a thought leader in search engines such as Google or Bing. Each element of the acronym corresponds to a different aspect of developing your brand’s authority and reputation online:

  • Experience — The extent to which the content shows real-world or first-hand experience with a topic.
  • Expertise — The extent to which the content communicates extensive formal training and a deep understanding of the subject matter.
  • Authoritativeness — The extent to which the content situates the author and business as a go-to source of information about a topic, whether in a particular subject or across an industry.
  • Trustworthiness — The extent to which the other three qualities combine to promote the author and their related business as a source of factual, relevant, helpful, reliable, and high-quality information about a particular topic.

When planning to create expert content, start by clearly defining an audience for your SME to speak to (leadership, other experts, potential recruits, etc.), then come up with a list of topics that align with your business’s content marketing goals and decide on the most effective formats for distributing this information (articles, ebooks, white papers, videos, etc.).

Only then should you begin combing through your organization for experts whose expertise aligns with your established marketing goals.

Survey your SMEs for specialties and interests

After you decide on a plan for the types of content you’d like to publish, your next step is to identify the specific subject matter experts in your organization who will be the best fit for your content marketing strategy.

For example, who do you send new recruits to when they need guidance or have a question about a particular aspect of your practice? Do particular departments have a “go-to” expert they consult on difficult problems? Is there someone who’s particularly visible and vocal in meetings about their area of expertise and how it fits into the goals of the broader business?

Remember that there should be a balance between subject area competency (“are they actually an expert in the topic”) and content marketing potential (“can I get enough information to develop an effective content marketing asset”).

In this way, you’ll want to find experts whose specialties and interests align with your target topics — and who are also happy and willing to devote several hours of their time to answering your questions, sitting through a content interview, reviewing the piece, and helping you promote it across your firm’s various marketing channels.

Integrate your experts into your broader content marketing strategy

It can be difficult to find the middle ground between effective content marketing and what your subject matter experts actually want to talk about. For this reason, it’s important to establish SME buy-in early in the process so you can more readily integrate your experts into your broader content marketing strategy.

Building a partnership with your experts is crucial to the success of your content, and requires a deep understanding — on both sides — of the needs, requirements, and preferences for how to approach the project.

Be especially clear with the SME about exactly how, when, and why they will play a part in developing the content.

Is their involvement limited to a single interview and some follow-up questions? Could they just give you some bullet points over email and then review the final product at the end? Be especially clear about how, exactly, the SME will connect to the broader content marketing process.

Making the process as easy as possible for your experts will often result in increased buy-in, better interviews and content, and significantly improved results over the long term.

Conduct detailed interviews — and act as a filter

Asking great questions and taking detailed notes when interviewing the subject matter expert is the most important step in developing successful content that moves the needle for your business. For this reason, it’s crucial that you come prepared for the interview with at least a basic agenda or outline of what you want to cover.

Remember that the interview is about extracting clear, simple, and authentic thoughts and opinions from your subject matter expert.

You can paraphrase, summarize, iterate on, or otherwise adjust the final assets to fit your brand’s guidelines and your overall SEO and content marketing goals, acting as a filter between their extreme breadth of knowledge and the types of content your audience actually wants to engage.

Try different methods for not only asking the SME for information about a particular topic, but more specifically about their opinions, preferences, or insights into the “why” that exists behind that information.

By taking a strategy of guiding your experts toward articulating their opinions and thoughts (and not just general information), you can more readily create authentic, compelling content that establishes your firm as a thought leader in your industry.

Keep the SME engaged even after the interview

After you finish your interview, make sure to follow up with the expert with any additional notes or points of clarification you might have coming out of the meeting. This is also an excellent time to show your respect and gratitude to them for taking the time out of their busy schedule to help you with your content.

As noted by Tim Asimos, our Director of Digital and Growth Marketing:

Even though we may believe that it should be their job to help us with content, they are still taking time out of their busy schedule to help. So if you want to get more content from them in the future, make sure that they feel that you have respected their time, value their input, and are genuinely grateful for the effort that they have put forth.

Not only will this collaboration build a greater sense of trust between your experts and your marketing team, but it will also help you create more compelling, differentiating content that’s in tune with the recent trends and information present in your industry.

Ask the expert for final approval before publishing

Asking for feedback is crucial in ensuring your content is as relevant and accurate as possible before publication. In addition to asking for general reviews throughout the drafting and revision process, it’s important to get a final sign-off from the expert before you publish to ensure no mistakes are present in the content.

While minor changes to formatting or adding hyperlinks to other articles won’t require input from the SME, any major content changes should usually be signed off by the SME before they’re pushed live.

Remember, the primary goal of creating content with your subject matter expert is to establish experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trust.

Ultimately, the accuracy, relevance, and information presented in the piece itself will reflect back on the credibility of not only your firm as a whole, but also on the SME as well.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to receive their final go-ahead before you publish the content to your site or other channels.

Encourage the SME to share the published content in their network

After you publish your new content marketing asset to your website, you should push it to any other channels that may be relevant to the target audience — such as your social media channels, email lists, or even industry publications.

Critically, you should work with your subject matter experts to ensure the content is distributed across their individual networks. Ask your SMEs to share the content to their social media profiles, send it to any relevant contacts they may have in the industry, and to otherwise help promote the content out into the broader world

Not only will this self-promotion further establish their position as a thought leader in you industry, but it will also significantly increase the impressions and engagement you will receive on the piece upon publication.

Focus on collaboration to drive content marketing success

Connecting with subject matter experts is often a practice in empathy and collaboration. You need to understand their pain points when it comes to creating content so you can take steps to reduce friction in the process and empower them with the tools they need to buy into your process.

In this way, the most crucial step in creating impactful content is to establish a strong, collaborative working relationship with key subject matter experts in your firm.

Once they understand the “why” behind your content marketing efforts, your SMEs will be more likely to provide you with the information you need to create authoritative, powerful thought leadership that moves the needle for your brand.

© 2024 circle S studio Privacy Policy
© 2024 circle S studio Privacy Policy
Subscribe To InsightsSubscribe
Subscribe To Insights

By signing up you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy.